Hokkaido University Research Profiles

Life Sciences

Functional Regulators and Biomarkers of Immune and Cancer Cells

Using low-molecular-weight nucleic acid (microRNA) to control the function of immune and cancer cells, and to determine the immune status of subjects.

We provide microRNAs that control the immune response of the body and the proliferation of cancer cells. It is expected to be used as a nucleic acid medicine to improve the immune status and to treat cancer patients, and as a new biomarker to determine the immune condition of subjects by monitoring microRNA in the serum.

Content of research

In recent years, cancer immunotherapy has made remarkable progress, and immune checkpoint inhibitors have been marketed as drugs. On the other hand, biomarkers to determine the immune status of subjects are needed to improve the clinical efficacy of cancer treatment and to provide safe and secure treatment with fewer side effects.
In this study, we discovered novel microRNAs that can regulate the immune responses or cancer cell proliferation. These microRNAs show promise as nucleic acid drugs that can be administered directly to the body to improve the immune status, or as drugs that can be added to immune cells processed or prepared from the body to regulate their functions.
It is also possible to determine the immune status of cancer patients by monitoring the level of microRNA in the serum, and it is expected to use this as a useful biomarker to evaluate the anti-tumor immune response to cancer immunotherapy and predict side effects caused by abnormal enhancement of the immune system, and to select treatment methods.

Potential for social implementation

  • ・Regulators of dendritic cell function
  • ・Novel therapeutic agents for cancer
  • ・Companion diagnostic agents for evaluation and assessment of immune constitution

Appealing points to industry and local governments

The small molecule nucleic acid (microRNA) found in this study has been confirmed to regulate the immune response of T cells and the proliferation of cancer cells through the regulation of dendritic cell function. It is also very promising as a serum biomarker that can determine the immune constitution and tumor malignancy of each subject.

Intellectual property related to this research

特願2014-133367 「免疫体質又は免疫応答型を判定するためのバイオマーカー及び免疫応答型制御剤」
特願2014-133377 「免疫応答制御剤」
特願2015-038360  「がんの悪性度、予後および/又は抗がん剤治療の有効性を判定するためのバイオマーカー、制がん剤を選択するためのコンパニオン診断薬並びに抗がん剤」